MSI Z87i Gaming ITX Motherboard Review
Published: 17th December 2013 | Source: MSI | Price: £134.99 SRP |
ITX motherboards have spent a long time as the weapon of choice of the HTPC crowd. Their tiny size and reasonable performance were perfect to place in a small case beneath your television and use as a media streamer, or for the occasional light gaming options. Although they have been gaining more of a foothold recently, they're still regularly built around a cut down chipset and rarely give performance equivalent to their bigger cousins.
The MSI Z87I Gaming completely destroys those preconceptions, and at the same time destroys your expectations too.
We've mentioned in the past items that are pocket rockets, but the Z87I really sets the bar high. Yes it's amazing for a mini ITX motherboard. Replete with the full fat Z87 chipset and the attractive MSI Gaming branding, it's desirable even if it only performed as well as a regular option. But it's not amazing for a mini ITX board. It's amazing for a Z87 motherboard, full stop. No qualifiers. No caveats. This this is outstanding.
4.9GHz out of our i7-4770K is as good as any motherboard we've tested, and it's rock solid too. Of course being such a small size you can't put a NH-D14 on it due to the CPU socket being too close to the CPIE slot, but the H100i that we used is perfect with its small size and would enable you to maximise the potential of the MSI. It's not just the CPU performance that was excellent though, as the memory bandwidth and 3D tests were up there with the very best the Z87 chipset has to offer.
By any yardstick the MSI Z87I Gaming is an outstanding motherboard. That it comes in a 'small but perfectly formed' ITX package for around £130 only enhances our sense of wonderment at its capabilities. Sure you're losing some USB/SATA ports when compared to a full size offering, and the placement of the 8pin CPU power could be better, but we're nit-picking.
A jaw-dropping motherboard with performance up there with the very best, the MSI Z87I Gaming easily wins our OC3D Gold Award.